Report | December 3, 2018

The Next-Generation Industry

The Next-Generation Industry produces the young adults America needs

Looked at from a number of perspectives, America is failing to produce the young adults it needs for a competitive 21st Century workforce. Defense Department data released by Mission: Readiness, for example, indicate that only about 30% of 17- to 24 year-olds can qualify for armed services employment. In comparison with other developed economies, America now ranks far from the top in health and education standings.

All the people and businesses involved in the long process of producing the most important product of all–our next generation–constitute an industry, the Next Generation Industry. This industry includes parents, grandparents, childcare providers, pediatricians, educators of all kinds, and the employees and executives of the businesses that provide everything from car safety seats to job-training textbooks.

The Next Generation Industry comprises more than 200 million people - two-thirds of all Americans - and accounts for $2.4 trillion of spending a year, or almost 13% of U.S. GDP.

However, economists do not think of the economic work involved in producing human capital to be an economic sector or industry; nor do the people in the Next-Generation Industry. This policy blind spot contributes to key failures in American human capital investment and economic growth.

When the Next Generation Industry is unified and represented in policymaking the way other major industries are, public and private policies will be more supportive of good parenting, healthcare, and education for all American young people. Our workforce will be more competitive, opportunities will be more equal, and our economy will be more future-oriented.


  1. National